Diversified chemicals group Omnia Holdings is celebrating several record-breaking achievements across Protea Mining Chemicals and BME, which together form the group’s mining division.
Protea Mining Chemicals became the first in its field, globally, to develop a solution that helps copper and cobalt mines reduce product contamination, thereby improving metal purity levels and maximising throughput in the solvent extraction process, Omnia said on September 14.
The solution took six years to develop in partnership with chemicals manufacturers and copper and cobalt mining customers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The solution’s discovery will extend the life of copper and cobalt mines and assist in increasing profitability. Protea is, therefore, working closely with other mines to replicate this success in other regions.
“Over the past few decades, many unsuccessful attempts have been made by mining houses, global chemical manufacturers, as well as solvent extraction equipment and process engineers to address this issue of contamination.
"Needless to say, this has been a very challenging journey and we are delighted by what we have been able to achieve,” said Protea MD Michael Smith.
Protea’s achievement comes hot on the heels of BME’s record-setting accomplishment, with the division having recently initiated the largest, single electronic detonator blast in South Africa using 3 780 detonators at a manganese mine near Hotazel, in the Northern Cape.
Powered by more than 461 t of high-quality emulsion from BME’s Losberg plant, in Gauteng, the explosion moved 890 000 t of overburden. BME also supplied other necessary equipment for the explosion, including boosters and surface wire.
BME’s ground-breaking AXXIS electronic initiation system - which improves the safety, ease of use and accuracy of blasts – was a key contributor to this success.
The latest iteration of the initiation system, namely AXXIS Titanium, is currently undergoing final trials ahead of its market launch, which is planned for later this year.
“BME’s ongoing product development has positioned us well to consistently produce quality blasts that deliver on customer requirements. Our versatile and easy-to-use AXXIS system facilitates larger less frequent blasts, reducing the disruption caused by blast-related pit stoppages and improving mine productivity,” said BME MD Joe Keenan.
BME’s record-setting streak included initiating the biggest single blast in the world, the company said, noting that the division used 7 401 electronic detonators in a large copper mine in Africa, breaking its own record – which was previously held for firing 7 350 detonators in a single blast at a large opencast coal mine in Queensland, Australia.
“These are not only great achievements for Protea, BME and Omnia Group, but also unparalleled wins for the African continent.
"This world-first discovery and greatly advanced blasting technology are testament to the intellectual capital, innovation and solutions-focused thinking that enables Africans to effectively compete on a global stage,” Omnia CEO Seelan Globalsamy commented.